The Boardroom: Two months on since COVID hit Malta, how has the real estate sector been impacted?

What’s Property like in Malta at the moment?

How are Malta’s leading realtors expecting the immediate future to pan out? 🤔

BELAIR Property’s Ian Casolani and RE/MAX Malta’s Kevin Buttigeg explore the changes felt by the real estate sector since the start of the pandemic

 

Stay tuned here: https://www.facebook.com/pg/WhosWho.mt/posts/

 

 

RENTALS – Maltese families are looking for villas & penthouses for the summer

Rentals find a new market: locals looking for luxury

A new trend in the rentals market is seeing locals looking to move into luxury villas with pools for the summer with space being more sought after in this period of self-isolation.

Estate agents have confirmed the rise in rental requests for houses with gardens, or penthouses with large terraces and views, from Maltese families who are not their typical clients.

The pandemic has had an impact on the “appreciation” of the outdoors in homes and the importance of quality family time, they say.

Resigned to the idea that they will not be taking their usual family holidays overseas, and hotels will not be opening any time soon, some locals are happy to spend a monthly €4,000 to €6,000 on a house with a pool over the summer, says Belair Property managing director Ian Casolani. He has noted this trend from the start of the outbreak.

Owners of short-let properties, who have been renting at good daily rates, have found themselves in dire straits since their business was wiped out with the closure of the airport.

But their woes can be slightly mitigated by the new shift to Maltese and expat tenants as they turn their properties into long-let rentals, Casolani says.

A property in Gozo that is on the market.
A property in Gozo that is on the market.

 

Meanwhile, owners of long-let properties are also considering renting to Maltese for a few months instead of a year if they are struggling to find a tenant.

Perry Estate Agents is also facing the “phenomenon” that arose from partial lockdown. Its managing director, Robert Spiteri Paris, has seen a healthy demand for more “space”, based also on the assumption of more competitive prices due to the flood of properties from the short-let category, which is also made up of quality homes.

Landlords have been more flexible with prices because of this increase in supply, Spiteri Paris points out, resulting in more choice and better rates on the long-let market. The uncertainty of going back into lockdown has meant villas are being rented to Maltese for four months up to a year, and the agency has also convinced a few owners to instead rent properties for sale to the post-lockdown market.

“We have experienced a huge influx onto our database of new properties we did not even know about. Owners do not want to leave them idle even though it would mean earning half what they would from short lets,” he says.

Even long-let properties have gone to Maltese families, who generally hate spending money on rent but want to treat themselves, Spiteri Paris notes. They are now opting for the top villas that foreign CEOs would normally rent.

Meanwhile, expats living in, for example, a Tower Road seafront apartment have also asked for a pool, and couples have joined up to rent a villa together for a change of scene and to take a breather.

Gozo is also on the radar and could make up for the shortfall from tourists through the local market. With the ban on visiting the island recently lifted, it is the only destination to travel to and “cut off”, particularly for working parents who can commute while their children enjoy the outdoors.

Frank Salt Real Estate director Grahame Salt is also witnessing a staycation trend and a rise in Gozo holidays in converted farmhouses with pools, from short breaks to three-month stays for the summer.

A large pool and deck at this Lija villa.
A large pool and deck at this Lija villa.

“Mostly families with kids, stuck inside an apartment, are likely to go mad in the summer heat, and if they can afford it, they are looking at this option,” says Salt.

“People are simply appreciating home because they are spending so much more time there. Until recently, they would just eat, sleep and leave. Now they have understood the importance of having a nice house.”

The new sales pitch when showing a property is whether you can see yourself doing quarantine in it, he jokes.

You can find the article here: https://timesofmalta.com/articles/view/rentals-find-a-new-market-locals-looking-for-luxury.792146

FIRST TIME BUYERS: THINGS TO DO AND CONSIDER

 

“Being in the pool of first time buyers is one of life’s experiences which you’re unlikely to forget quickly. It’s an important and long-term decision that will affect your future.  Whatever the reason for purchase, you should be aware of what is in store for you before making any commitment.” – Steven Borg, Head of Sales

 

COMMITMENT

As first time buyers, in many cases, you’ll be entering into a long financial commitment which may affect your future lifestyle choices, together with any long term career plans, so it’s imperative that you first understand this and are prepared for what lies ahead. Ensuring your mid to long term career, allows you to make this important decision with more confidence. If you’re partnering up to purchase a property, it’s also important to ensure that both of you are on the same commitment page and that any worst case scenarios are discussed in the case of default or life changing events.

 

WHAT CAN YOU AFFORD

Mortgages are a common facility that most first time buyers need. There are a few leading banks who offer varying interest rates and fees. Enquiring with a few leading banks to see which offers the best deal should be one of your first steps. As you would with any major purchase, it’s imperative that you determine what your realistic budget is before you begin looking for your property. It would be disheartening to fall in love with a property only to find out down the road , that it is way outside your achievable budget. It will become a disappointing search and possibly set an imaginary standard that will potentially derail your expectations and ultimately make your search an unpleasant and frustrating one .

 

PROPERTY SEARCH

Searching for the Ideal Property does not have to be a  stressful or tedious venture and professional assistance from a trusted estate agent will be key.  It’s important to utilise the services of an agent you feel comfortable with and trust.  There are many properties available , and your agent should explain the differences between what’s on the market.  Location, apartment versus house, it’s size, current condition and ‘added value’ are essential components to be discussed and evaluated. Once properly informed, deciding on your ideal property should come naturally.

‘Hard sell’ sales techniques should be avoided at all costs, as this may  lead you down a slippery slope of decision making which could be regrettable and not easily reversible without loss of investment. Developing a trusting relationship with your agent is in your best interests, as this will be more financially beneficial and give you peace of mind that your agent is not working solely for their own short-term financial gain.

Establishing and shortlisting property preferences is a task that is best tackled with an organisation that will allow you (and your partner) to discuss and assess each potential choice, ultimately helping you make informed decisions and comparisons that could also serve for future negotiation when the time comes to conclude.  

Your estate agent (intermediary) is the ideal person to place an offer. Usually the agent will have the knowledge of what an owner will or will not accept, and if negotiation is impossible, your agent will be trained to obtain such information that will guide you to the best possible terms. Owner/sellers generally vary in the way they like to be approached. Some prefer face to face interaction with the purchaser, whilst others prefer discussions to be conducted through the agent. This is the most crucial part of securing the best possible deal. Reputable agencies have trained agents who are always backed by management with years of experience in the field, thus will be instrumental in finding a ‘win win’ outcome for both parties.

 

SECURING THE DEAL

Once you have decided and agreed on the price and terms and conditions, the services of a Notary Public is called upon to draw up a promise of sale agreement (POSA). The Notary is entrusted with ordering and vetting searches to ensure that you are obtaining the property with a clean title and free of any debt and encumbrances. The notary is often appointed by and paid for by the purchaser. Fees in relation to these services can be determined prior to the drawing up of the POSA. (Link to: Notary Bill Calculator).

The Notary will also assume the task of liaising with banks and providing the relative legal safeguards for the involved parties, whether there are any current loans on the property being purchased, as well as any  bank loan required to purchase the property. It’s important that all parties are clear on the terms and conditions set out in the POSA, as this is legally binding on both parties. It is also imperative to raise any points that you may not be sure of with your agent and/or notary wherever necessary. Currently, the Government of Malta has extended the law which covers first time buyers NOT to pay any Stamp Duty on the first €175,000. If the property costs more than €175,000, then 5% on the balance would be payable as stamp duty on contract.

Architects should be appointed by the purchaser to confirm that the property has been constructed in line with building regulations and  Planning Authority permits have been approved. Architects are also required to fill in Land Registry Site Plans (where applicable) and complete the necessary ‘Schedule 8’ form. It’s important to note that notaries will not be held responsible for any building irregularities and you should ensure that all is in order prior to signing the final contract.

Fun Fact: 100% of first time buyers have a median age of 32 when it comes to purchasing a Home.

 

Should you require more information on any of the above, Belair Property agents are available to provide professional advice.

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5 THINGS TO KNOW ABOUT BUYING A PROPERTY IN MALTA

There are 5 main things to know about buying a Property in Malta.

Every Country has these key factors which vary, some slightly and some a bit more. Here it’s pretty straight forward… if you listen to the right advice.

Purchasing a home is exciting as much as it is frustrating, after all it is a big commitment. If you are prepared and have the right assistance, the procedure can be fun! These are a few tips that might help you in the process.

  1. Savings – Make sure you have at least 10% of the price of the property on hand, as this is usually required as down payment.                                                                                                                                                                                            
  2. Finances – It is ideal that if you are getting financed by the bank you are aware of how much the bank will give you before starting your search. Too many times clients see a property that they like but the bank then refuses to give them the amount they request. To buy a property in Malta, finding the right Bank is crucial.                      This link can be helpful: Home Loan Calculator                                                                                                                                                         
  3. Expert Advise – As soon as you announce that you’re looking to buy property in Malta, you can expect friends and family to come out of the woodwork with all their well-intentioned advice. Remember that principles that may have been true in the past don’t necessarily continue to be so in the ever changing property market.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   
  4. Key Features – It’s always a good idea to make a list of key features you want in your new home. Talk to friends and family members who own a home and ask them what features they wish they had or didn’t have. The number of bedrooms, bathrooms, or, do you want an office?  Open or closed floor plan. Most likely you will not find a house that has everything on your list so you should prioritise it, which features are a must and which are preferred. Be ready to compromise.                                                                                                                                            
  5. Hire the right real estate agent – You’ll be working closely with your real estate agent, so it’s essential that you find someone you get along well with. The right buyer’s agent should be highly skilled, motivated and knowledgeable about the area.  

 

We at Belair do our best to provide the best customer experience and professional assistance to clients looking to purchase a property. Our agents go through thorough training to make sure they are prepared to service our clients in the best way possible. Our aim is to make this journey as smooth as possible. If you are looking for your first home or perhaps looking at buying as an investment, give us a call.

Buying a property in Malta has never been made easier.

 

THE RENTAL MARKET IN THE NORTH

 

In November 2018, ARQ Economic & Business Intelligence, an economic advisory firm part of local professional services company ARQ Group, issued Malta’s first housing rental index. It was no surprise that their research found that the rent in Malta has increased drastically, and the rental market in the North of Malta is no different. 

 

Their research also uncovered that rent increase was mostly seen in the north and western parts of the island. In the north the increase mostly affected three-bedroom apartments, maisonettes and penthouses. Two-bedroom maisonettes also saw an increase. One of the factors contributing to this rise might be foreign workers primarily looking at the Northern regions due to them being commercial and entertainment hubs and also house a large percentage of hotels and restaurants.

Looking to find out more about the North?

 

Is rent affordability  becoming a challenge?

Although there is concern that rent affordability is becoming a problem, we at Belair still find it hard to find available properties for our clients here in the north. We never seem to have enough property on our database no matter how substantial it is. Belair Mellieha branch has been open for two months now and we are on a roll. We have a high demand for rental properties, thus we are always looking for new properties to add to our portfolio. If you are interested in renting your property kindly contact us so we can discuss in more detail and reply to any questions that you might have. Our seasoned letting agents can make this process smooth and hassle free.